The challenge for NZ food production is keeping up with the science while Fonterra restores its financial health – Point of Order:
Technology is opening a whole new direction for food production, reports The Guardian.
Robotics and drones are reducing the need for humans to be on the land, while vertical farming, in which vegetables can be grown in sunless warehouses using LED lighting, gene editing and metagenics are delivering new definitions of food.
According to a recent report by the think tank RethinkX, within 15 years the rise of cell-based meat – made of animal cells grown in a bioreactor – will bankrupt the US’s huge beef industry, at the same time removing the need to grow soya and maize for feed. . .
Can new crops crack down on cow methane? Meet the scientists finding out – Alex Braae:
The debate about methane emissions from farming is both ongoing and polarising, and many are pinning their hopes on scientific advances to avoid both de-stocking and climate breakdown. But how effective can these measures actually be? Alex Braae visited a research lab on the front lines of this fight.
At a sprawling campus on the outskirts of Palmerston North, research is taking place that could shape the future of New Zealand’s rural economy.
It is here that the grasslands facility of crown research entity AgResearch is based. And it is here where one of the most important scientific questions in the country is being thrashed out – can science help meaningfully lower the methane emissions of cows and sheep? . .
Wairarapa ‘heading into a drought’ – Fed Farmers – Marcus Anselm:
Wairarapa farmers are seeking central government backing as the threat of a drought moves closer.
Dry conditions in neighbouring Manawatū and Tararua and other nearby areas have led to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor confirming a “medium sized adverse event” for the regions.
“Many parts of the country are doing it tough due to a substantial lack of rain,” O’Connor said. . .
Parched conditions in Hawke’s Bay hitting hard amid calls for drought declaration – Anusha Bradley:
Hawke’s Bay farmers and leaders are urging the government to declare a drought as parts of the region experience the driest period on record.
Central Hawke’s Bay and Hastings were the worst hit with farmers saying the lack of water had not only hit summer crops but winter feed was now at risk if it did not rain soon.
For some parts of Hawke’s Bay, the four months between November and February have been the driest in 50 years. . .
Drought for North Island, Chatham Islands, part of South unlocks $2m relief funding :
The entire North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands have been declared as being in drought by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
O’Connor said the large-scale adverse event declaration, announced this morning, would unlock up to $2 million of funding to help farmers and growers from now until June 2021.
Medium-scale drought declarations had already been announced in Northland, Auckland and Waikato, Gisborne, Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Tararua – but this new classification covers the entire North Island along with Tasman, Marlborough, Kaikōura, North Canterbury and the Chathams. . .
Moves to make horticultural water available to Kaikohe residents – Susan Botting
Far North District Council is aiming to tap into new government-funded Kaikohe water storage to permanently supply the mid-north town.
Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said the council had already been working with Government and Northland Regional Council (NRC) on using the water from storage to be built in the North through the region’s $30 million Provincial Growth Fund project.
Carter said FNDC wanted to set up a scheme like had been developed for Kerikeri in the 1980s. This had been developed with the dual purpose to permanently provide water for horticulture and Kerikeri township. . .
Straight Off The Tussock chapter 1 – Tim Fulton:
Broomfield in North Canterbury was a quiet pond, but Jack was the stone that skipped across it.
I was constantly in trouble. My father Gordon was away most of the time, always busy, so I rarely saw him.
And my mother Winifred, well, she was 45 when I was born and totally incapable of looking after children, so during the day I was usually left to my own devices. One of the first things I did on the farm was paint one of our white calves red with house paint. I’d noticed how the calves got marked at certain times of the season so I painted the whole calf. Terrible job they had getting the paint off…nearly killed it. Another time, father had shorn about 20 wethers ready to go to market. Back in the 1920s you had to brand your sheep for shearing, but he’d left these ones alone because they were going to be sold about three weeks later. I decided they hadn’t been branded properly so I got the dog and away I went; mustered them into the top paddock, down the road into the yards, into the front pen of the shearing shed and proceeded to brand them. As far as I could tell there wasn’t a space left on them untouched. Well, that was the last time I was in the pen with a branding iron. Father was so ashamed of the sheep he kept them stuck out of sight in the paddock until they were ready to shear again. I could have only been three or four…
After the bushfires, what now? – Roger Franklin:
The usual controversy about fuel reduction burning in forested parks and reserves has erupted in the wake of the “Black Summer Bushfires” (as they have become known) in NSW, Qld and Victoria. Predictably, two broad camps formed up on opposite sides of the blackened and shrivelled no-man’s land that, until a few months ago, had been beautiful eucalypt forests and havens for wildlife.
On one side are the land and bushfire managers, land owners and volunteer firefighters, people who deal with fire in the real world. They are all calling for more prescribed burning, knowing that it will mitigate bushfire intensity, making fires easier and safer to control. Loud in opposition are the green academics and environmentalists, usually supported by the ABC, claiming that fuel reduction does not work, and even if it did, this would be a pyrrhic victory, because the burning would have destroyed our fragile biodiversity. . .
Meat and dairy sales surge in December quarter:
Meat and dairy boosted the total volume of manufacturing sales to its strongest quarterly rise in six years, Stats NZ said today.
The volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.7 percent in the December 2019 quarter, after a flat September 2019 quarter, when adjusted for seasonal effects. It was led by a 7.9 percent lift in meat and dairy products manufacturing sales, following falls in the two previous quarters.
“This quarter’s rise is the largest increase in total manufacturing sales volumes in six years,” business statistics manager Geraldine Duoba said. . .